Gougères à la EMP
Even after the meal was over and the positive reviews were in, my trouble with the Eleven Madison Park gougères continued to bother me.
Gougères are just pâte à choux (similar to the pastry used for cream puffs and éclairs), with the addition of some grated cheese. I’ve made pâte à choux several times before; in fact, I would rate it as less tricky than pie crust.
To be fair, the Eleven Madison Park recipe for gougères is slightly (though not dramatically) idiosyncratic: other recipes I’ve seen, such as in the French Laundry cookbook, call for the eggs to be added to the flour-butter-water mixture first, followed by the cheese, while EMP reverses the order and adds cream along with the eggs. Not a big deal… as long as you follow the recipe, rather than relying on hazy memories of past experience.
The bigger factor, though, was the lack of a weight measurement for the flour. I know that when using the “scoop and level” method, I personally tend to weigh flour “heavy” – as much as 6 oz. per cup. So I estimated it at about 5 oz. per cup the first time I made them. That estimate may have been my downfall, as we needed to add a lot more eggs to get the dough to the right consistency for piping.
Because I was so frustrated the first time, I knew I had to try them again. I scaled the flour back to 4 oz. per cup, and followed the recipe nearly to the letter. Instead of Gruyère, I used Manchego, and I also mixed in some finely diced dry-cured Spanish chorizo at the end, just before piping them out. They took a little longer to bake than the recipe says, but I think they turned out beautifully!